A new art venue in Rock Hill soon will spring into business to help expose local artists' work while contributing to the growth and makeover of downtown.
Gallery Up debuts Thursday with a grand opening, welcoming artists and collectors to the corner East Main and Caldwell streets.
The frame shop, exhibition space and retail store are located on the second floor of the Tom S. Gettys Center at 201 E. Main St.
Owners Tamara LaValla and her husband, Zan Maddox, jump-started the business to encourage people to head downtown for the arts instead of traveling to Charlotte for gallery crawls and art openings.
"People have been here for a lot of years waiting for the downtown to grow," LaValla said. "I think we're on the verge of finally getting there."
The owners said the gallery will be a place for artists to display and sell their work.
"We're opening this space so artists who don't understand business have an outlet," Maddox said. "We'll provide this to the community so they (the artists) can have a way to present themselves professionally."
LaValla and Maddox previously owned Pure Creative, an arts and design firm downtown. They sold it two years ago and started LaValla Maddox Art and Design, which is connected to Gallery Up.
Gallery Up enlists managers Alfred McCloud and Stephanie Jordan to find artists from South Carolina to the Midwest who would like their art displayed.
"We research artists that we either find through the Internet, other artists' trends, galleries and other stores like ours. We also review all of the artists' applications that come in," McCloud said.
The business has three components: the exhibition room, where artists can display their work for four to six weeks; the gallery store, where artists and collectors can buy and sell art; and the custom frame shop, which Jordan will head.
Also, a Web site at www.galleryup.com will launch in tandem with the opening so customers can buy and sell artwork through the store online.
Two grants, one from the Arts Council of York County and another from the city, helped fund the project and the grand opening. Total cost to create the business, including marketing and advertising, was $35,000.
The gallery helps the arts council pursue a new target audience ages 25 to 40, said Debra Heintz, executive director of the Arts Council of York County.
"They have a lot of creative talent and energy," Heintz said. "They're very art savvy. They're exactly what we've been looking for."
For LaValla and Maddox, getting the gallery ready has been worth the effort. They hope to draw people off the street and up the steps to their shop.
"The store is a unique space, like a hidden treasure," Maddox said. "I think once people come up and see, it they're going to be surprised."
WANT TO GO?
• What: An art gallery that offers an exhibition room, a store and custom framing.
• Where: Second floor of the Tom S. Gettys Center at 201 E. Main St., Rock Hill
• Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every second and fourth Saturdays; and during downtown gallery crawls when they are held on Thursday and Friday nights.
• For information: 980-5355 or www.galleryup.com